Saturday, 12 November 2011

Fairy Land – Valley Of Flowers (VOF)

Fairy Land – Valley Of Flowers (VOF)

Last 3 year planning to go fairy land called Valley of flowers also known as upper Bhyundar Valley, But every time there are issues and we keep postponing trip . Well this time also there were issues , but inspired by poem “tumi ekla chalo …..” (Walk Alone friend..) Started my journey alone.

Last year wanna go to Valley of flowers(VOF) in last week of September , but some one suggest not to go in last week of September and best time to go VOF is between 15-July to 31-AUG , when Valley is full of flowers.

The valley had long held a place in local legend, and was called Nandan Kanan — the garden of Lord Indra , no doubt it looks like garden of gods.
The credit for the popularizing the Valley of Flowers generally goes to the British mountaineers Frank S. Smythe and R.L. Holdsworth who incidentally, due to bad weather reached this valley after a successful expedition of Mount Kamet in 1931 and latter wrote book “Valley of flowers” in 1938.

Valley of flowers(VOF)

Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley)

Day 1 , Plain to Mountain

Early morning started journey from Haridwar to Joshimath.Haridwar to Joshimath is around 260KM , but bus/jeep take approx 10+ Hr to reach there due to hilly area. Took GMO (Garhwal Motor Operators) bus from Haridwar. In bus few people from Gujarat, going to Badrinath , few Army men going on Duty and some local people. GMO bus usually go via boundary of Rajaji National park , not via main highway to Rishikesh, it has beautiful view and less crowded ( almost no crowd). GMO bus was good , I feel it is better then taking Jeep/Sumo. I was tired, due to last night journey from Home town to Haridwar, but beautiful mountains, landscape kept me awake. Reached Joshimath around 6:30 PM , it is already night. Not did any advance hotel booking , but got hotel easily. On the way there are too many “prayag” like Devaprayag , Rudrprayag etc. What I understood that “prayag” means palce where 2 river / stream meet.

Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley) , BadriNath , Hemkund Shaib

Haridwar -> Rishikesh -> Devaprayag -> Rudrprayag -> Karnprayag -> Joshimath

Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley) , BadriNath , Hemkund Shaib

Day 2, Joshimath – Govindghat- Ghanghria

They way to VOF start from small place called Govindghat , 22 KM away from Joshimath on the way of Badrinath.
started early morning from Joshimath to Govindghat. Everything look beautiful between Joshimath and Govindgaht , may be because we reached to some height ( above sea level) or may because got proper rest after 24 Hr journey in Bus , what ever it is, but it is beautiful place to be. I asked driver to stop Jeep 2-3 places to take photos of Mountains , rivers , local people etc. We can see roaring Alaknanda river below along the road.

I already gone through 2-3 VOF Blogs, all suggest not to carry you racksag. So as soon as , I reached to Govindghat , I took porter and started 14 KM Journey/tracking toward Ghanghria. There is another option to take pony , but I want to enjoy beauty of mountain and of course , back in mind, thinking , let burn some calories. Initial 2 KM and last 1KM is steep climb, rest of the path was fine. All they way till Ghanghria ,there is strong smell of dung of Pony’s and path moves along the river Laxman Ganga. Some places river flow just next to path or tea stall.
There are too many shikh pilgrims, all the way till Ghanghria, most of them chanting “Wahi Guru , Sat Naam”. All the way till Ghanghria you will find tea snacks stall .

Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley) , BadriNath , Hemkund Shaib

After 7-8 KM , I realize that I made the mistake , probably , I would have taken Pony. My legs were paining like any thing and am tired badly. Which ever hotel I got first , I stayed there . No energy left to go and check other hotel.

Near hotel there is information center , which selling books and giving info about Valley of Flowers. They also run show about valley of flowers. I brought some book and CD.
No phone work at Ghanghria, there few shop having Satellite phone for which they charge approx 12 INR per min.

Day 3 , Ghanghria – VOF – Ghanghria
Early morning took breakfast , and packed some “Paratha” , chips , water , too many cadbury etc. Valley of flowers open time is 6 Am , I was there, sharp 6:00 AM, but no one there at booking counter, I waited for 30 Min then one guy came , he apologize and gave me ticket. I was expecting more people there, but started walking inside alone , after walking for 1.5 KM , I was in doubt where there am in right direction ???…. 2 labor coming from back, confirm that , I am in right direction.After waking 3.5 Km down and up Reached the one Man made bridge. After crossing bridge there is Big bolder , which is sign that Vally of flower started and place know as Bamin dhar.By the time I reached this bridge , I already took 73 Pictures.

Way to Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley)
Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley) , BadriNath , Hemkund Shaib
Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley) , BadriNath , Hemkund Shaib
Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley) , BadriNath , Hemkund Shaib
Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley) , BadriNath , Hemkund Shaib
Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley) , BadriNath , Hemkund Shaib

Here I meet Raj ( DU Student from NE ) , we both started walking inside the valley. We took lots of pic and keep walking. It is just breathtaking view all around. It is looks like some one maintaining this valley.

While going forward we saw signboard , directing toward Mary Legge grave. Grave is on right side down, toward river from main trek , Miss Margarate Legge a botanist arrived VOF is 1939 for further studies. She had fatal slip on some rocky slope. Latter Her sister visited and made a memorial on the spot where she was buried by the Locals. Memorial stone have following words

“I will lift mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help”

Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley) , BadriNath , Hemkund Shaib
From Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley) , BadriNath , Hemkund Shaib

Near Grave we took Quick Lunch and started to reach main trek. We keep walking toward “DronaGiri” . On the way there were 2-3 water stream, with no bridges. At “Dronagiri” we can see lots of Bojpatara trees. After Dronagiri , trek cross the River , this part is most beautiful place. Very few tourist reach to this place. Most of the Tourist roam around initial 3 KM and go back.

Dronagiri Area of VOF

From this place of valley , one can have panoramic view of the surrounding peaks, Gauri parbat , Rataban , Kunt khal , Saptsring and Nilgiri.
It was 3:30PM and time to go back , it started drizzling. We started toward Ghanghria.

going back to Ghanghria

Day 4 , Ghanghria – HemKund Sahib – Ghanghria

Took pony to reach HemKund Sahib. It has very very steep climb. After 2-3 KM pony took rest. We all get down from pony and took tea. On the way to Hemkund Sahib we saw lots of “BhramKamal” flowers. This flower only grow on certain heights. I decided to take photos latter while coming down.
After reaching there people taking bath in lake near Gurudware before going to Prayer in Gurudware. I used work-around , took small water in one hand and sparkle/spray from head to toe an then attended Prayer at Hemkund Shaib Gurudware. We also visited Laxman temple next to Gurudware.

After all Darshan and prayer , we went back of lake to took lots of pic of BharmKamal and Gurudware etc, By 1:00 PM Weather become very bad. Gurudware announce all people to pray ASAP and go back to Ghanghria.

Hemkund Sahib

Day5 , Ghanghria – Badrinathji – Joshimath

As per plan , I suppose to visit VOF again , but my legs were paining , so decided to go back. Morning Hotel Supervisor said , sir cloud looks clear, it going to be Sunny. He suggested to visit VOF in sunny day. His suggestion looks good , but again my legs were not keeping pace with my ideas and/or plans BadriNathJi was not there in my plan , but thought to make quick visit BadriNathJi.early morning started from Ghanghria to Govindghat. Reached GovindGhat by 12:30 PM. From GovindGhat took bus for Badrinathji.


It was sunny day , Badrinath is not looks like Hill area , it is too much commercialized.After reaching near Badrinathji , took bucket from shop. Filled ½ bucket from Hot water spring and ½ with Alaknanada river and took bath. There was not too much rush near temple like any other famous temple. But like any other temple here also priest wanna know from , where I am , so he gonna tell me my family tree. All the time , i tried to avoid priest , but this guy tried to help me in all my ritual ,despite, I was rude in few reply. His dedication , calmness and simplicity impressed me and in end , voluntarily paid him a hefty fee. After “Darshan” rush to bus stop to catch bus / Jeep to Joshimath. I was lucky and got seat in last vehicle to Joshimath.

V BadriNath Temple

It was 15-AUG ie India independence day , Joshimath road was full of peoples and kids , looks like big festival. Again few got good hotel at Joshimath and very easily.

Day 6 Joshimath – Haridwar

Early Morning 4 :00 Am getup to catch bus to Haridwar. Somehow missed the private (GMO ) bus. There was no Jeep early in Morning , so took Government Roadway bus , that was disaster.
Bus driver got to know that there was cloud burst near Badrinath, hence Road to Badrinath is closed for 7 Day because few meter road was washed away. Latter this news was there on News Channel and got lots of call from Family, office and Friends.
Luck was not with me and 30-40 Min Bus stopped and we came to know that road was blocked due to land slide. After 4-5 hr road was cleared and we reached Haridwar arount 6 PM.

Valley Of Flowers (Bhyundar Valley) , BadriNath , Hemkund Shaib
Traffic jam at Karnprayag

Thanks to Tabish for guiding. Thanks for Raj( from NorthEast) and Anu ( from US ) for company during VOF and HemKund Sahib visit.

Raj ( Right ) , Anu ( Center )

About Valley of flowers

Valley of Flowers situated in the lap of the Himalayas about 3,200 m to 6,679 m in altitude in the Chamoli district of Uttrakhand. Pushpawati river emerge from Tipar glacier at base of Godhi Parvat ( Peak) flows though valley of flowers and meet Laxman Ganga at Ghanghria and finally in to Alaknanda river in GovindGhat. Valley become frozen during winter and become fairy land during summer. Valley of flower take different shades of colors as month progressed. Valley come alive in month of April , when ice meltdown , become yellow in June , Purple and white in July , too many colors in August.
Government declare Valley of flowers as Nanda Devi National Park in 1982 ( 87.9 Sq KM), latter UNSCO declare it as World Heritage Site in 1988 (Extensions in 2005).

Local knew existence about this Bhyundar valley ( Valley of flowers) for centuries also called playground of Fairies and elves. But it not very popular in outside of world , despite huge pligirm visit near by famous temple Badrinath , since 9th Century. Bhyundar located southeast of the shrine of Badrinath.
RL Holdsworth , Frank Smythe Eric Shipton and his team climbed to Kamet (7751 M) in 1931. Due to bad weather condition they descended into the north Bhyundar Valley. Smythe saw meadow of blue flowers.
RL Holdsworth wrote

All of a sudden I realized that I was simply surrounded by primulas. At once the day seemed to brighten perceptibly. Forgotten were all pains and cold and lost porters. And what a primula it was! Its leek-like habit proclaimed it a member of the nivalis section. All over the little shelves and terraces it grew, often with its roots in running water. At the most it stood six inches high, but its flowers were enormous for its stature and ample in number-sometimes as many as thirty to the beautifully proportioned umbel and in colour of the most heavenly French blue, sweetly scented.

Latter Smythe named this valley as ” Valley of flowers”. In 1937 Smythe again came back to India and stayed for 4 month and in 1938 Published a book ” Valley of flowers”

“I hope generously, my ignorance must judge for myself whether the Bhyundar Valley deserves its title the Valley of Flowers. Others will visit it, analyze it and probe it but, whatever their opinions, to me it will remain the ‘Valley of Flowers’ a valley of peace and perfect beauty where the human spirit may find repose” — Frank S. Smythe